Peace Page

Welcome to the Servas Britain peace page!

Servas is unique among travel networks because it is rooted in a tradition of peace activities. It grew out of a ‘peace-builders’ movement after the Second World War, whose members wanted to work for peace, to make contact with other peace movements, and to create a work-study-travel programme so that young people could ‘learn the ways of peace’. This tradition continues today, and you will find that members of Servas are involved in a wide range of activities that can be described as ‘peace-building’.

Report of International Conscientious Objectors’ Day – 15th May 2017

A ceremony of remembrance for all those who have established and are maintaining the right to refuse to kill…

Valerie Flessati of Pax Christi representing those groups who organised the event – the First World War Peace Forum – welcomed supporters to Tavistock Square, standing opposite the Conscientious Objectors’ (CO) memorial stone with its peace inscription.

The initial speaker, Nick Jeffrey, explained how he became a Vietnam War Draft Resister following his actions as a protest to the inhumanity of US action at the time. A song, ‘The Ones Who Said No’, composed by Sue Gilmurray, was followed by a brief address from Mark Rylance, actor and peace campaigner, who also mentioned  a new play that he would acting in, based on the life of Siegfried Sassoon.

The reading of 79 Conscientious Objectors’ names, past and present, each from different countries, and laying of flowers in their honour then took place. One minute’s silence was then observed at this powerful commemoration of named and unknown COs. Finally, another song ‘The Road to Peace’ also composed by Sue Gilmurray), led by the assembled choir, ended the ceremony on a positive note.

As those present dispersed, there was much discussion, and an opportunity to visit some of the stands that had been set up in the Square by the various peace organisations, or to sit and reflect.

Next year’s ceremony is in Tavistock Square on 15th May 2018.

In peace,

Carol Allen, Servas Britain Peace Secretary

Anyone in Servas Britain can contribute to this peace page, with news of events and happenings. This goes for any Servas travellers who visit this page too! There is a wealth of experience and service amongst our members, which we need to share and build on. Please add your thoughts and suggestions to the page. Contact Jenny Sturt, the website editor (host 193) or Carol Allen (host 38), the Servas Britain Peace Secretary.

Many hosts in Servas Britain are involved in activities concerned with refugees, and help to publicise the problems faced by refugees during Refugee Week. The ‘Simple Acts’ Campaign, launched in 2009, continues – it can include anything from finding out information about a refugee community to cooking a meal from a country from which refugees come. You can get more information from the Refugee Council. Women to Women for Peace‘ is a network of women whose work is about bridge-building between people from countries which have contrasting, and often conflicting, political, philosophical, cultural and religious approaches.
We develop and maintain friendships across cultural divides, creating opportunities for communication and educational exchanges. We believe that by building friendships between women, we learn to understand one another and value our differences. We arrange reciprocal visits between people from the United Kingdom and around the world.
See the Women to Women for Peace website
Jeffrey Gale (host 145) is involved in the World Peace Gardens network. He says: “Would any Servas Member like to designate a garden or potential garden as a World Peace Garden with our special logo? Any garden is eligible for designation, but we’re particularly interested in school or college gardens or public parks. The idea of the network is to combine permacultural design principles of perennial biodiverse horticulture, orchards and woodlands with peace activism.”
To find out more and to see the logo, go to the World Peace Gardens website.
Many Servas members are also members of the human rights organisation Amnesty International, and will know of the excellent events, including exhibitions, films and lectures, which take place regularly at the Human Rights Action Centre in London and at other venues. Many of these events are free and open to non-members. See the Amnesty website events page for more information.
What do you do for peace in Servas? Let us know and we’ll publish it on this page…